The Flamingo Project
As a Wildlife Conservation Centre, Ardastra’s mission is to enrich the lives of the animals we care for and to help future generations of endangered species thrive through dedicated breeding programs. We achieve this through the generous support of our visitors and patrons from all around the world.
To learn more about becoming a member or making a contribution, please connect with us at the link below. We thank you for your interest and support in our program.
About the Flamingo Project
In the late 1950’s, the population of the Caribbean Flamingo, the National Bird of the Bahamas, was severely threatened with numbers dropping as low as 5,000. In an effort to intervene and prevent extinction, Ardastra Gardens, in collaboration with the Bahamian Government, The Bahamas National Trust and The Audubon Society, looked to establish an ex-situ breeding program. The program became highly successful, and the original flock grew in numbers as young chicks hatched year after year.
Over time, the flamingos were conditioned to “march” for visitors creating the perfect opportunity to educate the public about the birds’ natural history and conservation threats. The efforts of Ardastra Gardens increased even more when the gardens were purchased by the late Norman Solomon. He was a well-loved Bahamian whose passion for wildlife and conservation inspired him to incorporate more animals into the gardens. His efforts brought thousands of visitors annually to marvel at the tranquil and restorative gardens, thus bridging the gap between nature and humans and inspiring them to take an active role in protecting the natural world.
In 2019, Ardastra Gardens rebranded from a Zoo to a Wildlife Conservation Centre, as the animal rescue and rehab numbers exceeded more than 75% of the population.
Following that transition came 2020, the year of the pandemic and closure, making it impossible to carry out the vision and mission of the Conservation Centre, as daily survival became the primary focus. The Gardens were privately funded throughout two and a half years, prior to reopening. Presently, it remains so but requires philanthropic support from the public to meet its operating needs and to fulfill its educational and conservational missions.
Since 2022, the Ardastra Gardens team has been working to create a more conducive environment to resurrect the flamingo breeding program. These changes have included clearing out overgrown vegetation, landscaping, the improvement of water quality, new nesting area substrate, and the improvement of the breeding flock diet.
After the improvements made in 2022, positive results have been observed. First, the frequency of courtship rituals has increased over previous years. Secondly, the duration of time spent in the nesting area by the flock has drastically increased. Lastly, this was the first time in approximately 5 to 6 years that we observed nest building in larger quantities. In the past, we had typically observed this behavior from one or two birds, but not from a large number.
The observations from the 2023 breeding season have suggested an optimistic future for the flamingos at Ardastra Gardens. If we continue to manipulate, tweak, and perfect the environmental conditions that influence breeding, we can experience a successful program again.
The importance of flamingo conservation cannot be overstated. These iconic birds are the National Birds of the Bahamas and serve as a flagship species, as they draw attention to the urgent need for wetland preservation and ecosystem protection. By successfully breeding flamingos under human care, we are not only bolstering their population, but also providing a valuable resource for research and education, ultimately inspiring future generations to become stewards of our natural world.
From the brink of flamingo extinction to a healthy rebound and thousands of visitors in between, Ardastra Gardens has always made conservation and education its top two priorities. But we couldn’t do it without the help of our generous donors. With ongoing public and private support, we are poised to make a lasting impact on the preservation of these remarkable creatures, furthering our mission to protect the world around us for generations to come.